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Serious Medicine. Extraordinary Care.

Making the Decision to Have a Radical Prostatectomy

Radical prostatectomy is a common surgery to treat prostate cancer. This surgery may be a good choice for you if the following statements are true.

  • You are healthy enough to withstand general anesthesia and the surgery itself.

  • Your cancer is confined to the prostate gland. Your doctor may have to remove lymph nodes before or during the surgery to know for sure if the cancer hasn't spread.

  • You expect to live long enough so that you will likely benefit from the surgery.

Prostate surgery is more likely to cure your cancer if it hasn't spread. However, it can be hard to figure out if your prostate cancer has spread without actually doing the surgery. Doctors find a higher stage of cancer than expected in some men during or after the surgery when the prostate tissue is looked at under a microscope.

Just because you're able to have prostate cancer surgery doesn't mean that you have to choose this treatment. Other options may include radiation therapy or watchful waiting (active surveillance). You must think carefully about your lifestyle, the risks of having surgery, and your quality of life before making a decision. For example, if you can't stand the possibility of incontinence, scarring, or erectile dysfunction, then maybe surgery is not the best treatment for you. But if the idea of leaving your cancerous prostate in place will constantly worry you, then surgery may be a good choice for you. If you choose surgery, ask your doctor what side effects you can expect, when you can expect to return to your normal activities and what the scars will look like.